SLIDESHOW

10 Dream Machines Almost Nobody Can Afford

Whether you're in the market for an insanely high-end rig or you just feel like doing a little high-tech window shopping, these pricey PCs deliver serious bang for a whole lot of bucks.

More Bang, More Bucks

As the saying goes, you get what you pay for. And when it comes to PCs, there's a lot to get. Though $500 can buy a serviceable machine and $1500 can net a pretty sweet gaming rig, that's just the beginning of the price range for hardcore computing power. Here's a look at what you could have if money were no object.

Hunting for something a little more affordable? Check out the best bargain desktop PCs or the top netbooks.

Falcon Northwest Mach V -- $8130

Your PC's innards are state of the art--shouldn't the exterior say as much? The folks at Falcon Northwest can build you a blisteringly fast computer. But they can go one step further, too, and airbrush custom artwork onto the chassis. Alas, good taste isn't necessarily included.

Photo: Falcon Northwest

Maingear Shift -- $8208

If you want a behemoth that's as imposing as it is powerful, you want Maingear's Shift. The chassis screams "pragmatism be damned," and the machine is packed with solid-state drives and no fewer than three graphics cards. You get all of that in a vertically mounted case, for optimum airflow.

Falcon Northwest DRX -- $8107

Slick automotive paint, 12GB of RAM, a GeForce GTX 480M graphics board, and three 256GB solid-state drives can push the cost of a Falcon DRX laptop over $8000. But hey, you get a free backpack to carry it in!

iBuyPower Level 10 -- $7609

Like some Frank Gehry nightmare made manifest, iBuyPower's Level 10 throws conventional design wisdom to the wind. Created with help from BMW Group Designworks USA, the case will run you $800. But sacrifices must be made when your space-age tech demands that Jetsons-style flair.

Photo: Thermaltake

Lenovo W701ds -- $6469

Lenovo's dual-screen W701ds mobile workstation starts at $3299, but configuring it with the fastest CPU and graphics card, 16GB of RAM, and dual solid-state drives really runs up the bill.

Hardcore Computer Reactor X -- $9668

Flowing magma frying your equipment? Don't abandon your secret lair! Hardcore Computer's Reactor X submerges its delicate components in a nonconductive oil, for unparalleled heat dissipation. As an added bonus, the glass paneling will (likely) stop a bullet, and the coolant is slick enough to trip up the most heavily armed assailants.

Photo: Hardcore Computer

HP EliteBook 8740w -- $5552

HP's top-of-the-line mobile workstation starts off expensive, and gets even pricier when you configure it with the best CPU, the most RAM, and the fastest graphics. But it's the extra $500 that you can spend on the color-calibrated, wide-gamut DreamColor display that puts the whole thing over the top.

Origin PC EON18 -- $9416

With a $500 custom paint job, an nVidia Quadro FX 3800M workstation graphics board, a Core i7-940XM CPU, 8GB of RAM, three 512GB solid-state drives in a RAID 0 configuration, and a Blu-ray burner, it's no wonder this custom high-end laptop costs over nine grand.

Panasonic Toughbook 31 -- $5798

This laptop can survive 6-foot drops and extreme shock, vibration, humidity, altitude, rain, dust, and sand. It's fully MIL-STD-810G certified. This sort of durability doesn't come cheap, though: You'll pay almost $6000 for this Core i5-540M-equipped machine with a 13.1-inch screen.

Had enough of the PCs of the rich and famous? Want to add serious performance to your more modestly priced system? Find out what you need to know to overclock your CPU.